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ACOs, EHRs and Compounded Drugs: The Mid-Year Forum's Can't-Miss Sessions
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Apart from the Annual Meeting, the Academy’s Mid-Year Forum is the most important annual event for organized ophthalmology. This year’s forum will be held April 10 to 13 in Washington, D.C., at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel.

Among the compelling issues that attendees will tackle are compounded drugs, mid-level care providers and the impact of electronic health records (EHRs). Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet with members of the U.S. Congress and share their thoughts on why ophthalmology in the United States is a social concern, a medical necessity and a national treasure.

“The Mid-Year Forum is a fantastic opportunity to get updated on critical issues related to ophthalmic advocacy and practice,” Academy President Paul Sternberg Jr., MD, said.

Special Guest, April 11
Alex CastellanosDon't miss CNN political strategist and analyst Alex Castellanos. He'll speak during the welcome reception and awards banquet on "Politics: A Look Into the Future."

That’s just as true for young ophthalmologists as for physicians who’ve been in practice for a while. In fact, the Academy makes a significant effort to ensure residents and those undergoing fellowship training can attend, through the Advocacy Ambassadors Program. A partnership with residency programs, state and subspecialty or specialized interest societies, the program provides sponsorship for members in training. Last year, nearly 140 members in training attended the Mid-Year Forum through the program.

Though Academy leaders account for a significant part of Mid-Year Forum attendance, the event is open to all Academy members. Here’s a preview of the forum’s main sessions.

Health Care Integration
On Thursday, April 11, a panel of Academy leaders will discuss, “Eyes Wide Open: What Ophthalmologists Need to Know to Navigate Integrated Health Care.” Ruth D. Williams, MD, the Academy’s immediate past president, and David A. Durfee, MD, the Academy’s senior secretary for ophthalmic practice will moderate the session.

Related reading:
 • A Primer on Accountable Care Organizations
 • Doctors in Dialogue: Three Experts on ACOs and Ophthalmology's Future

Health care integration is not new, as Academy CEO and EVP David Parke II, MD, has noted, but the health care reform law helped accelerate the trend. Panel members will discuss real-world examples of the value of accountable care organizations, issues involved in decisions to sell a practice and the pros and cons of joining a clinically integrated network of care.

Practice Extenders
On Friday, April 12, the general session will focus on “The Workforce Puzzle: Uses and Abuses of Mid-Level Practice Extenders.” Michael X. Repka, MD, the Academy’s medical director for governmental affairs will moderate.

Electronic Health Records
Electronic health records are nothing new, especially for young ophthalmologists, but federal incentive programs tied to “meaningful use” of an EHR system are designed to increase reliance on EHRs over paper records. Not all EHR systems are well suited to ophthalmology practices. The unique workflow in clinical eye medicine, the sheer quantity and fantastic quality of imaging data and the particular patient demographics mean that the EHR templates applied to most medical specialties may fall flat for eye surgeons.

The Friday Mid-Year Forum session, “EHRs: Improve Quality, Cost-Effectiveness and Your Headaches,” examines the blessings and challenges of EHRs in ophthalmology. Anne L. Coleman, MD, PhD, Academy secretary for quality of care, and Michael F. Chiang, MD, chair of the Medical Information Technology Committee will moderate.

The Future of Compounded Drugs
Ophthalmologists who use bevacizumab (Avastin) for off-label applications, such as to treat wet AMD, rely on compounding pharmacies for the small doses they need. But with the deadly, multi-state meningitis outbreak last fall, tied to a compounding pharmacy in Framingham, Mass., state and federal legislators are scrutinizing compounders’ activities more closely.

Since the meningitis outbreak, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Department of Justice, the FDA and the CDC are all conducting investigations into the compounding controversy, and members of Congress intend to introduce legislation to bolster oversight of compounding pharmacies.

George A. Williams, MD, consultant for the Academy’s Health Policy Committee, will moderate another Friday session at the Mid-Year Forum: “The Confounding Situation with Compounded Drugs: Risks and Impact for Ophthalmology.” The session will consider why the increasing use of compounded drugs is critical to the management of ocular pathologies, along with the medical risks and regulatory obstacles for delivering these drugs to patients who need them.

Focusing on the Patient
The final session of the Mid-Year Forum, “Patient Centered Care: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” will be moderated by Dr. Sternberg and Tamara R. Fountain, MD, secretary for member services. The discussion will cover publicly reported metrics of patient satisfaction and the reigning environmental factors and financial incentives contributing to the tenor of patient satisfaction initiatives.

“Our closing session on patient-centered care will share valuable tips on what you can do to improve your performance on patient satisfaction metrics, and how you can reduce the risk of an unhappy patient,” Dr. Sternberg said.

Considering the timely topics and expert faculty lined up this year, every ophthalmologist can benefit from coming to the Mid-Year Forum. It’s also a way to earn CME credits; attendees are eligible for a maximum of three AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Information on registration and accommodations for the Mid-Year Forum is available on the Academy’s website.

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About the author: Denny Smith is a former editor for EyeNet Magazine

Academy members: login to read or make comments on this article.